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[Columns]Patent for frozen tofu

Iwamoto set up his company for the development and manufacturing of frozen tofu in 1990, obtained a patent in 1995, and changed the company's name to ""Tendre"" (a happy nation in Latin) in 1996. Tendre received an award from the Medium and Small Business Research Institute in 1998. Tendre has also completed the technology to produce frozen tofu that guaranteed best-before dates for at least one year, and instantaneously frozen diced tofu so as to be handy for cooking, transporting, preserving like other frozen foodstuffs, and open to food sanitation inspections. The City of Sakai, the scene of a stir over food poisoning by the bacteria ""O-157,"" has started using frozen tofu for lunch programs in public schools on the grounds that the bean curd can easily be checked in food sanitation inspections. Demand for frozen tofu from hospitals and businesses also is rising rapidly.
Tendre has grown as a corporation with its annual sales amounting to about 700 million yen while its yearly output of frozen tofu totals about 2,500 tons. Iwamoto said it is technically possible to produce ""hiyayakko"" raw and water cooled tofu, but has not yet introduced it to the market. Frozen tofu has been shipped to the United States through trading firms from a year ago. Also, in a tie-up arrangement with a U.S. group interested in studying healthy foods, Tendre's frozen tofu is due to be put on sale throughout the United States as early as the end of this year.